QMapShack – GPS and Maps on Linux
In one of the comments on my last post on Windows 10, a friendly reader from my home country pointed me at QMapShack as a replacement for QuoVadis. I have been using QuoVadis now for many many years, and it contains my mountaineering history all the way back. All the guiding work, all the track. QuoVadis is a great program, able to work with various commercial digital maps as well as GPS receivers. It only has one disadvantage, it doesn’t work on Linux. QMapShack is very similar in the target audience, but very different in usage. The one big difference is of course the set of maps one can use with QMapShack. Fortunately, Garmin Maps are supported, and since all my maps regarding Japan are Garmin maps, I am now in the process to converting to QMapShack at least for my Japan GPS data.
Let us start with the program I was using since ages, and still are using, QuoVadis. QuoVadis is a great program, there is nothing to complain. It is extremely feature-rich, and above all it can work with many different maps. While working as mountain guide in Europe it was an essential tool for me. I could use the digital raster maps of Austria, Switzerland (SwissTOPO), Germany, France, Italy, as well as Garmin vector maps. For serious work as a professional it was indispensable for me.
Unfortunately, it never worked on Linux. For some time I had a VirtualBox installation of Windows, but that was more a clutch than anything else. So for most of the GPS work I had to reboot my laptop to Windows, do my stuff there, and then switch back to Linux.
QMapShack is far from as feature rich as QuoVadis, but as far as I see now, it does have enough features for me and my mountaineering in Japan. Dealing with GPS units is not a problem, this is the easy part. The difficult part are the digital maps. Fortunately, QMapShack supports Garmin vector maps, the only maps that are (as far as I know) available digitally for Japan.
Getting used to QMapShack is a bit a challenge coming from QuoVadis, but the Wiki help pages allowed a quick start. Within short time I had maps set up. Next step was to download a data from my last weekend trip to Yarigadake, Kitakama-ridge (unfortunately we had to turn back due to rain). Connecting the unit and mounting it was already enough to show up in QMapShack, and allowed me to copy the tracks to my local database.
Next I switched to Windows and exported some tracks from my Japan folder to a gpx file. After rebooting to Linux, I loaded the gpx file into QMapShack and without failure all the tracks and routes showed up, as it can be seen in the above screenshot (click on it to get a bigger version). Also the display of the Garmin map worked perfectly.
Update: Please see the comment section for explanation of the necessary functions. QMapShack does provide similar functionality. Thanks to Oliver for pointing me at it! After some time of working there are a few functions from QuoVadis I am missing for now at QMapShack:
- Track Processor: it allows you to smoothen a track, reduce the number of points, etc. A very useful tool which I use on each track before uploading it to my blog. For a normally day-trip I usually boil down to 300 points a track, which completely suffices to show the actual track.
- Visual track editor: In QuoVadis one can edit a track with a visual tool that allows to delete, move, shift points and line segments on the fly. This, too, is extremely useful to clear out wrong GPS points (due to bad reception etc).
Although these two functionalities are missing, all in all I am very happy for now with QMapShack. My next steps are:
- Import all the Japan related data from QuoVadis to QMapShack – unfortunately there is no script or tool to do this automatically. Since I have a few years of history here, I need to create for each trip a new project and copy the tracks/waypoints/routes for that trip into the project. This is a bit painful, but I didn’t expect that it will work without some manual tweaking.
- Next I also want to help QMapShack, first by trying to provide a translation into Japanese, and than see what kind of features I am missing or want to have.
Finally, above all, I see a future where I do not need to reboot into Windows for doing my GPS work. For now I will import all the data into both applications, but if QMapShack holds its promises from the first day of usage, I am confident that this will not be necessary in future.